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The Bad Boy Sound

I was doing a little Biggie retrospective over at my…. ahem… other blog, and after listening to a bunch of the tracks for a millionth time in my life, I got to thinking about Puffy, hit Hitmen crew, and all the producers associated with Bad Boy in the 90s. The Bad Boy sound, the polished samples, the little shaker and hi hats, doesn’t get enough credit. I think these dudes get shitted on in hip-hop circles because Bad Boy eventually became a traveling circus.

But let’s take Easy Mo Bee sampling a hair dryer on Craig Mack’s “Flava In Your Ear,” how many people would think to do that today? These days we have technology that’ll allow us to damn near sample a whole entire song, and yet we still can’t make a record as hot as someone who was doing it with 12 seconds of sampling time. Are we wack or was Mo Bee just that great?

Granted in the mid to late 90s Puff got all looped out, and just started jacking every classic record in sight, but to me he at least re-did these tracks with dignity. Say what you want, but “I’ll Be Missing You” was an incredible remake. There was something in the simplicity of just looping the track and reworking it in the Bad Boy mold that was unique. It was almost as much a tribute to the original as it was a tribute to Biggie.

Take “Mo Money, Mo Problems,” as another example. Another pretty straight forward jack, but it still had a certain polish to it that a lot of other sampled tracks at the time were lacking. It wasn’t just hard drums, it was the way the percussion was laid under the samples, it gave the track even more bounce than it already had.

Plus when you listen to the Bad Boy records today, just the sheer thickness of the tracks themselves is instantly noticeble. The beats sound big and chunky, probably the affect of going to analog tape with them, but still, back then everyone was doing that. And yet these tracks sound so much bigger, more full. They fill up your speakers.

Plus there’s something to be said for straight loops. No matter how many ways you chop “Walk On By,” that 2 bar loop on “Warning” is always going to be the most classic usage.

Speaking of which, remember beats with actual snare drums? What happened to those?

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